Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)TiHo eLib

A six-month prospective, randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, crossover, dietary trial design to investigate the potential of psychobiotics on seizure semiology and comorbidities in canine epilepsy : study protocol


Epilepsy is the most common chronic neurological disease in dogs. More than two-thirds of these patients suffer from associated behavioural comorbidities. The latter could have their origin in partially overlapping pathomechanisms, with the intestinal microbiome as a potential key link between them. The current arsenal of drugs for epilepsy management remains limited. Most canine patients continue to have seizures despite treatment and the occurrence of comorbidities is not sufficiently addressed, limiting quality of life of affected dogs and owners. Therefore, novel additional epilepsy management options are urgently needed. The microbiome-gut-brain axis may serve as a new target for the development of innovative multimodal therapeutic approaches to overcome current shortcomings in epilepsy management.


A six-month prospective, randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, crossover, dietary trial was designed to investigate the potential of the psychobiotic Bifidobacterium longum on behavioural comorbidities in canine epilepsy. Seizure semiology will be evaluated as a secondary outcome measure. Thirty-four privately owned dogs are planned to be included in the ongoing study meeting the following inclusion criteria: Dogs displaying increased anxiety/fear behaviour since the start of the idiopathic epilepsy. Tier II confidence level of the International Veterinary Epilepsy Task Force for the diagnosis of idiopathic epilepsy, with a maximum seizure interval of 3 month and a minimum of three generalised seizures within that period and chronically treated with at least one antiseizure drug without improvement in seizure frequency Each dog will receive the allocated supplement (probiotic vs. placebo) alongside its normal diet for a 3-month period. After a three-week wash out period, the second phase starts by administering the respective other supplement for another 3 months.


The current study considers modern high-quality standards for epilepsy medication trials. Common biasing effects should be limited to a possible minimum (regression-to-the mean effect, placebo effect, observer effect), ensuring a high validity and accuracy of the acquired results, thus enabling a representative nature of the efficacy of Bifidobacterium longum as add-on supplement for dogs suffering from epilepsy and its comorbidities. This publication should provide a description of the study procedure and data acquisition methods, including prognosed statistical analysis.


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